Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON
For someone like me, being back in India is like returning to the comforting embrace of an old favourite blanket. It smells familiar. It feels familiar. Its rustle is familiar. I slip into it instantly. I revel in it. This country is where life began for me. This is where I was blessed with an education and an upbringing to cherish as long as I live.
I come here now - as I have several times in the past twenty years - with an Australian passport and a neutral accent that I call a "United Nations accent" because it is hard to place and has inflections that hint of a global upbringing. I come here with an open heart and an open mind. I revel in returning to this wonderful country.
This photograph was taken on Sunday morning, along the narrow two-lane highway from the Indian capital, New Delhi, to the hill town of Dehra Dun in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh state. It is a slow procession of bullock carts, impossibly laden but proceeding with stately elegance and steady pace (if you can call it pace) up from the vast historic plains where the three battles of Panipat were fought, centuries ago.
As a child, I was fortunate to make many road trips across this land. But this journey is somehow symbolic. Now I am a novelist and I am a photographer. Now I am in a part of the country where I have never been before. Now it is my pleasure to chronicle the Garhwal hills and to capture the sights that caught my attention as a schoolboy. This slow, creaking convoy is one of thousands, every day, every week, every month. This photograph salutes all the bullock-cart drivers who take their cargo wherever it is required. This image is my salute to them.